The London 2012 film festival: review
Four amazing short films inspired by the London Olympics. Five of Britain’s best filmmakers. Hundreds of screening venues across the UK. And thousands of empty seats. The London 2012 Film Festival may have aimed to display the best of filmmaking talent, but it seems that the nation wasn’t really interested. Directors Mike Leigh, Asif Kapadia, Lynne Ramsey and the duo Max & Dana poured their souls into some truly exquisite short films, but, when it came down to it, nobody was watching.
Of course, short films are not everyone’s cup of tea. They’re only shown at festivals such as this, special screenings in cinemas and in blocks alongside many others – there really isn’t a DVD market for them. But then again, the organisers didn’t do themselves any favours with their punishing schedule. Those who did venture into the cinema were subjected to a relentless 90 minutes in which the films where shown back to back, followed by a badly filmed Q&A session, where the director’s answers were tediously repetitive – just babble about the pleasure of the open brief and messages of encouragement to new filmmakers about not compromising on artistic vision.
It’s a shame. The public really missed out, because the standards of film were exceptionally high. The selection started off with What If by Max & Dana which adapted Rudyard Kipling’s poem of the same name to demonstrate its application in modern life. Set in the Alexandra and Ainsworth estate in London, What If was beautifully shot in black and white and starred Noel Clarke as an angel who shows the main protagonist the meaning of Kipling’s words. This was followed by Swimmer by Lynne Ramsey – a far more artistic piece, showing a man swimming along the river to the accompaniment of various references from British culture. This short was truly breath-taking. All shot, as Ramsey later revealed, on old-fashioned black and white film, the gorgeous visuals completely made up for the strangeness of the piece. Next came Asif Kapadia’s documentary, The Odyssey, which was composed of amazing aerial shots of London, over which there were extracts from interviews with leading figures from the Olympics committee, famous Londoners and ordinary people all talking about the years since the Olympics were first given to the city of London. The final piece was Mike Leigh’s film, A Running Jump, about a typical London family, on a typical London day. This short was overflowing with fantastic British actors, who really showed off the script’s crackling comic wit.
The ensemble were an impressive taste of British talent and despite the awful coverage (whoever was vision mixing in London was doing a terrible job) and despite the fact that the exhausted audience asked almost no questions, the general feel from the films themselves was uplifting. Young filmmakers such as myself certainly couldn’t fail to be inspired. The message was ‘get out there and have a go’ and although there may not have been many people to hear it, the Olympic spirit was truly upheld.